The new Students’ Union Executive Committee are in place for the start of the academic year. The Exec play a big role in every student’s life, ensuring fair governing within the Students’ Union, the effective representation of students to the university and the provision of both commercial and non-commercial services. The Executive Committee consists of thirteen officers, who are elected every spring. Eight officers have finished their degree or are taking a sandwich year and five are part-time and continuing their studies. Through the NUS they maintain contact with other universities, providing an opportunity to share practice and views on important issues.
Speaking to Impact, SU President Gerald Bates described his plans for the coming year: “We hope to get more students involved in what we do. I think the main problem with previous committees has been not highlighting the work it has done and not getting enough people involved. Now big issues, such as keeping the library open 24-7, have been resolved we hope to focus on making our services accessible and available to everyone.” The Exec particularly hope to target freshers, who can run for SU council and be elected for the committee, as very few students get involved in their first year.
Gerald also described new services which have been brought in for the benefit of students this year, including an SU website, which should be fully functional in the next few months. It will allow people to access information about the SU more easily and will provide students with somewhere to buy tickets for nights out. Straw polls will also be carried out through the website, meaning more two-way communication between students and the committee. Another change affecting students is the establishment of the single letting agency ‘Unipol’ from September 2007, to ensure an improvement in the quality of house provision in student areas and a better deal on housing. The SU have also established a system of accreditation whereby the skills that students develop through their extra-curricular activities are formerly recognized by the university. The SU have also successfully lobbied for a reduction in Sports’ Centre Membership fees for Students.
The coming year will be a busy time for the Exec, with new laws meaning that they have to redefine themselves as a charity. This will lead to a review of the roles of the officers and improvements in the structure of the Students’ Union as a whole. If all these plans are carried out it seems that students can look forward to a revolution in how the Students’ Union is run and a more enjoyable experience at university.